I’ve been extremely fortunate this past year. Due to different possibilities and offers being thrown my way I’ve had the luxury of taking part of a number of different events, which have given me insight into a great deal of exciting projects around the world. Ranging from VR to straight-up TV documentaries, from academia barging into the media world to how the slow-moving but unstoppable forces of politics shape our world, it’s all been thoroughly interesting and exciting to experience.
While I feel we’ve been saying that we’re living in a state of flux and change for years, if not decades, now, I still feel it is true. And it does feel like we’re at some kind of tipping point, where the gatekeepers and advocates of old structures – be it in media or in other parts of society – are being forced to recognise that it is most decidedly no longer business as usual.
Reading back on my blog posts from the past seven years or so, I see that I’ve been banging on about these matters almost since the very beginning. However, I’ve almost exclusively limited me to the areas of media and storytelling – important areas, to be sure, but also in a sense simply a part of a much bigger structure.
Back in 2015 I was writing about “The Great Narrative”, my feeling of us as a species needing to focus less on and tell fewer stories about impending doom, evil rumours and hate- and fear mongering. I felt – and still do – that we have it in us to create a greater narrative for all of us, lifting us to higher levels that will allow us to act and interact in ways that are infinitely more fruitful than the current ultra-polarised climate. (For more on thoughts like this, you could do far worse than reading up on Jeff Gomez’ thought on “The Collective Journey”).
I feel this is what I’m seeing in the reactions to many of the projects I’ve been observing in the past year as well. The ones that craft stories that invite the audience to a real interaction, to a real conversation, to something that might also make money but is not inherently designed to play on peoples’ fears or worries to do so… those are the projects that reach out, that give hope, that embolden people, that make the ripples in the water that cause effects far far away from the original splash.
But we’re still at a point where this does not happen easily. I’ve sat at sessions where there all of the old structures are still in place, where the old media world still holds full sway over proceedings and nothing has really changed since the 80s. I believe most people in those settings feel that it’s increasingly a charade, something that needs to be played out, mostly because that’s “how it’s always been done”. Still, no one wants to be the one to stand up and rock the boat, so most simply play along. The ones that don’t play along? For the most part, they simply don’t attend.
For me then, the question is – how do I approach this teetering-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss world my professional world is living in at the moment? I’m confident that the ones that will come out on top are the ones with a genuine message, a genuine brand – or persona – and a genuine and long-lasting contact with the rest of the world, be it audiences, collaborators, financiers or someone else. That’s what I’m aiming to continue to build, and that’s what I encourage you to do as well.
For make no mistake. We’re in for a bumpy ride, and we have no clue as to just how bumpy it’s going to get yet. Still, at least it will be interesting!